December 05, 2012

Black Friday Brunch

I told y'all... the diva has been busy :).

On the day after Thanksgiving, a few of the neighborhood gals gathered together for a little quality time together full of gossip, comparing events from crazy family sagas on Thanksgiving, best holiday sales and what all the littles will be getting for Christmas ... now eventfully named the "Black Friday Brunch".  This may just be an annual event.

Bloody Mary's and Mimosas started us off.  Complete with all the fixins' of course ... I'm serious about my cocktails! 

Our brunch consisted of fresh fruit, cinnamon muffins and a loaded grits station complete with plenty of cheese, bacon, sauted mushrooms and asparagus.  To make the grits more savory I used chicken broth instead of just plain water.  Grits were served up in martini glasses and the gals hit the grits station to top them as they pleased.   
Our table setting was cute and simple, just as I like it.  I used burlap placemapts that were topped with a cute chevron inspired paper place setting.  Monogrammed black napkins rounded out the Black Friday theme.  My centerpiece flowers from Thanksgiving were still fresh and beautiful, so they were repurposed as well.  Since they were all white, the monochrome simple theme was supported. 

Sweet A brought these amazing desserts from Dutch Monkey Donuts, a local gourmet bake shop.  I must follow up to get additional details but they were fab and she was a doll to bring them.  Too bad the snap I took of them didn't exactly turn out!
All the girls left with a mini bottle of champagne as a little party favor decked out with fun leopard print ribbon.  The giant bottle in the back is a glittery craft gone right that I'll share details on separately.
The event was such a great morning and put me perfectly in the holiday spirit.  Holiday decor followed just hours after brunch and was put up in no time flat - who knew that was possible after a few bloody marys! 

December 04, 2012

The Elf To Be Named: Arrival

Last year, Santa brought baby B a wonderful scout elf and book for Christmas.  This year, I know the elf was anxious to make his December debute.  While he still doesn't have a name, he greeted us on December first in the very best of style for a big arrival breakfast. 

Our elf breakfast consisted of festive food and a fun (easy) tablescape that was whipped together when the sun came up.  Baby B awoke early and breakfast was served promptly prior to 8am.  This gives new meaning to up with the sun when there is a tablescape involved. 
The commemorative book, a red toy bin flipped upside down (Targer $1) and some polka dot fabric (from the babe's party this summer) served as the perfect centerpiece.  Red and white fabrics layered with snow (aka upholstry pad / filler) and a small chalkboard welcoming elfie rounded out the easy display.


Our breakfast foods consisted of cut fruit in festive green cupcake wrappers, yogurt berry parfaits decked out with a Christmas tree Peep garnish and cinnamon roll waffles.  To make the waffles, I simply pressed Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls into the old but trusty waffle maker.  In just a few minutes, voila ... cinnamon roll waffles.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Decked out in his elf p.j.'s we violated Elf Rule 101 by letting B hold elfie.  It felt necessary and I'm sure Santa would approve :).  Dear Hubs read the book (yes, when he thought there was a picture involved ... this is what I get).

It was a fun way to kick off December and our elf tradition as a family.  An early poll had the three names as front runners for elfie:  Clark Grizwold (suggested by moi), Jobs (as in Steve Jobs - compliments of Dear Hubs) and Dadden suggested by Baby B.  Thus far, every toy has been named Dadden, so why would this be different? 

Merry Elfmas, Y'all!

December 03, 2012

Finishing Up

To wrap up my last posting, I apparently had to find a new hobby ... resizing pictures from the blog to decrease my Picasa account size.  Thanks to a wonderful tutorial from Joy's Jots, I was able to "find space" and get back to what I love ... chatting with y'all.  Heavy sigh, I think I know what I'll be doing for the next few weeks - wash, rinse, repeat - of all of my pics to right size them.

And now without any more delay, here's my snap :).  Celebrating my new international gig meant a toast with Locations wine, a new label from a fave wine producer Orin Swift.   

For each "big" event; we try to save any little momento of the festive occassion.  For us, it's typically wine corks :).  And, I've kept a little silver oyster tray full of them in my butler's pantry.  It makes me smile each and every time I walk past.

Even though it's Monday am, cheers, y'all!

December 01, 2012

Busy B

Did you miss me?  :)

Each and every day, I start with good intentions that I will indeed catch y'all up with all the crafting, decorating, room re-designs, festive holiday affairs, family fun, friends, football, projects, sewing (yes, sewing), shopping, crafting, cooking and general good times going on around these parts.  But, each and every day ... I literally fall asleep the moment my head gets to a pillow because I've been running wide open from sun up until far past sun down! 

While I don't chat y'all up about my oh so less domestic diva life at work often, I'm thrilled that all the hard work and passion I have for my "day job" continues to pay off with a big announcement made to our teams last night about additional responsibilities.  I'll be focusing on building business outside the USA and there is a ton of opportunity on the horizon.  Prepping for the transition and announcement has been a large focus of my time and attention each day these past few weeks; and I'm ready to now get going! 

So ... with all that behind us, including a celebratory and appropriately named bottle of "Locations" wine last night enjoyed by me and Dear Hubs; it's on to the weekend and catching you up on all the fun around here!

And yep, the announcement is indeed noteworthy enough to have th cork make our memory dish!

(and as soon as I clear up some weird picture hosting thing, I'll be back in blogging business!)


November 12, 2012

Whoopie Pies: The Recipe

Y'all ...

I feel like "whoopie pie" is my middle name this season.  I have made these sweets a few times now and even shared some cute ways to package them up over here, but neglected to recently share the recipe.  I'd be remiss if I left you out in the cold without sharing that!  These are the perfect treat for this time of the year, full of flavor and super moist!

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies


1 (18-ounce) box carrot cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup raisins
1 pound cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl beat the carrot cake mix, butter, and eggs until incorporated. Stir in the grated carrot, and raisins. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Using a small ice-cream scoop drop the batter by 2 tablespoon mounds onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove and cool 5 minutes on the pan before moving to a wire rack and cooling completely.
In a mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla with a hand mixer until well combined and light and fluffy.

To assemble the whoopie pies, put the filling into a resealable bag and snip the corner to make a 1/2-inch opening. Put the chopped walnuts into a shallow dish or pie plate. Flip over 1 carrot cake cookie and pipe a dollop of frosting into the center. Top with another cookie and press gently to spread the frosting to the edges. Roll the edges of the whoopie pie into the chopped walnuts and set aside. Repeat with the remaining cookies and frosting. Arrange the pies on a serving platter and serve.

I've boxed these for gifts, bagged them for sweet treats and kept a healthy pile of them in my kitchen (until they are gobbled up!) for weeks now! 


November 10, 2012

Slow Saturdays

Slow is a relative term around here.  We run at the speed of chaos most days, but Saturday mornings afford us a few moments to slow down, catch up on the stack of 500 magazines, watch cartoons and drink PLENTY of coffee. 

After our trip to Napa last month, Dear Hubs and I are hooked on French Press coffee.  There's something more fancy glamorous about making coffee with this method than the traditional pot.  Not  to mention, it does indeed taste fab!  I bought my press on Amazon - easy to find and not expensive actually. 

My new mug is a gift to moi from moi, compliments of a little gift shop around here called elle b gifts.  I just adore the set!  That with a new copy of Food & Wine (a fave) magazine as well as many, many more are set for the reading. 

Once I conquer this leisure style for a few minutes, perhaps I'll set out on something more active today!  Hmmm... there are those oyster topiaries I need to make, that run I need to go on, those drapes I was considering starting, that work I needed to catch up on, the Charmed Life Kids that needs shipping and many more ideas on how to spend the morning.  Yep ... better get crackin!

Happy Saturday, y'all!

November 06, 2012

Vote 2012: Anxiously Waiting

Polls are closed here now, but we woke up early this morning and were pleasantly surprised by the nice conditions, donuts and coffee, short lines and expedient process to VOTE this morning.  After a long day at the office, I rushed home to prep a quick but patriotic dinner to celebrate election day 2012!  We dined on a festive red, white and blue display and watched as each state has been announced.

Our Menu included:
Uncle Sammies
(BBQ and Cole Slaw Sliders)
Red, White and Blue Nachos
(Blue Chips w Cheese Dip and Bell Pepper)
Stars and Stripes Fruit
(Blueberries, Strawberries with Whipped Topping and Sprinkles)


A few flags dotted around on the dough bowl display added a festive touch.

And the best, of course ... tiny containers of Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream (my personal fave) gave a sweet and patriotic tribute for dessert!

Red state, blue state ... too early to call this one - it will definitely be a long night!

November 05, 2012

Sweet Treats

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We had a few of our sweet friends over this weekend to enjoy some good times, good football and good food together!  After a delish dinner of smoked chicken wings, bbq pork tenderloin, corn casserole, brocolli slaw and pasta salad (thanks friends for bringing such yummy sides), we turned our attention to the desserts!

I love caramel apples and nothing feels more fall to me than one of them, but let's face it - they are a fiasco to try to eat in public and reserve any amount of manners!  So, I opted for caramel apple dippers for a sweet treat and of course, we noshed on those carrot cake whoopie pies, fresh from the oven!

The dippers were a snap to make.  Simply buy the pre-sliced apple wedges (because they don't turn brown quickly) and skewer them with a craft stick, lollipop stick or kabob skewer.  I had small craft sticks on hand and they worked perfect(and both ends are rounded so no littles will poke themselves).

Caramel was displayed in a jar and toppings were there for the grabbing.  Assembly couldn't be easier.  Just take an apple stick, dip in caramel and top with tasty toppings.  Voila!

This is one that I must remember!  Real cute and super easy - just like I like it!

November 04, 2012

Giving Thanks

Another wonderful weekend is coming to a close.  We spent time with friends, family and had an all around great time together.  Today, Baby B and I loaded up in the car and headed across town to see my sweet Nana.  She always loves a visit from us and adores the time with little B, after all ... it's her great grandson and she thinks he's tops (so do we).

Whenever we can, we try to remember to do a little something for the sweet nursing staff that take such good care of Nana each day.  Today's little giftable was a big box of carrot cake whoopie pies.  Nothing says "thank you" better than a sweet, tasty comfort treat.

I've made two big batches of these sweet treats over the past week - they are just so stinkin' good that I had to make plenty! 

To package them up, I took a white gift box (shirt box size) and put the two pieces of the box inside one another for re-enforcement.  A little two sided tape kept the two pieces together so they kept their shape.  From there, I used a square of burlap as a liner and put it catty-corner on the angle inside the white box form.  A layer of parchment was put down, followed by a small ton these tasty whoopies.  I folded the burlap up around the pies and secured with a seasonal polka dot ribbon.  The tags were made by hand using a copper gold paint pen.  (It was easier to do it free hand than to go print a tag ... yes, I am that lazy).

A second little box was whipped together for the nursing coordinator.  She has been a gem and helped out a few times above and beyond.  We wanted to make sure she received one too!

So the sweet pies were made and packaged up with loved and I know thoroughly enjoyed by the kind souls that help Nana each day.  We appreciate what they do so much ... it was only right that we give thanks!

November 01, 2012

Spain (in 48 hours)

The past 2 months have been a blur thanks to planes and travel.  In addition to two wonderful vacations (that I'm behind on sharing), I've had work travel like it's well .... my job!  Dallas, Chicago, California ... the normal stops plus a last minute trip to Barcelona have kept me one very busy diva!

Here's a few snaps from my glorious, but short, trip to Barcelona.  Even though I don't speak a lick of Spanish today (working on correcting that with some training), I'd definitely consider some repeat visits!  I was there for meetings but was able to squeeze in a few site seeing stops, more food than my belly could take and the gracious hospitality of the local culture.  It was a great time as far as work goes for sure!

My journey started in Barcelona, where a new found friend and local colleague picked me up from the airport and whisked me north towards France.  We found our home for the next 24 hours in the Pyrenees mountains.  The tiny village was charming and warm.  Home to about 7,000 people, it's also the home of the business partner I was there to meet.  Picture a small, nice ski town in Colorado with far more old world charm.... that's it!

The village is nestled atop a hill and the views are absolutely breath taking, day and evening.  The hosts were oozing with Euro hospitality and we ate ourselves silly with meals that lasted far too long, eating way too much!  Details on those delish dishes later.

After a jet lagged day of meetings, we headed back to Barcelona to meet a few more partners and conduct some interviews.  By this point, I was determined not to return to Spain until I could speak SOME Spanish.  I felt like such an American not knowing anything to say but pointing like a wild woman at what I was trying to say.  Not to mention, my hosts had already told me that I look like what they expect "Americans to look like" for whatever that's worth.  And, then they proceeded to ask me if I was a Prom Queen, to which I laughed and realized that this "American look" must not be too terribly bad!  
Back in Barcelona, work wrapped up and we had a few hours to spare.  My local colleague was kind enough to stay and serve as my tour guide and interpretter for the remainder of the evening.  Sigh of relief for sure! 
Among our many, brief sight seeing stops in the city we ....
Went to the market to see the amazing displays of culinary wonders.  From cheeses, produce, meats of all kinds and sweets ... this market had everything you can imagine (and a few graphic meat related things I wish I could block out!).

We walked the crowded streets, oogling over the old architecture and charm.
We stood in awe (and me with my iphone camera) at the beautiful state buildings and cathedrals.  The architecture is a wonder.  I stand mesmorized every time I think about how difficult it must have been and how long it took to build these beautiful buildings back so long ago.

And this is where my tour guide likely thought I'd lost my mind ... I went from tourist to crazy lady, snapping pictures of the cute Halloween window display.  He could understand the buildings ... but the pumpkins ... a man will just never understand!

After a brief trip, I'm ready to start my language training in prep for a return visit.  Love, love, love it!

Happy Halloween

We celebrated the scariest day of the year in good style around these parts.  Baby B woke up and headed off to school (unusual for a Wednesday) to participate in the Halloween Parade.  It was the cutest darn thing to watch all of the preschool classes march their costumed selves around the balloon lined walk way outside the school.  Like a good mommy, I stood and froze my derriere off for a good 45 minutes waiting on the festivities (that's love). 

The original costume of choice for Baby B was Bam Bam from the Flintstones.  How cute would that have been - little boy running around with his baseball bat as he always has.  He would have just loved it.  Well, when temps were threatening near freezing range, the thought of a half naked baby was just too terrible to imagine.  And, if you toss tons of layers under his little Bam Bam costume ... it just wouldn't be cute (or make sense), so ... we pulled out the tried and true pumpkin suit!  The good news - it's warm and conducive to layers.  And thus, Baby B was a darling pumpkin, hat and all, this year!

When the walkers class finally surfaced, Baby B was proudly walking and holding the hand of one of his teachers.  He was so darn cute and all smiles as his adoring fans oggled over the cute littles in costumes.  All that was fine and good until he spotted mommy in the crowd.  Then, he made a bee line straight for me, which meant that to continue in the parade ... mommy joined the walkers class. 

After we did an elaborate bait and switch with one of the teachers, Baby B's day at school continued without a hitch.  He crafted and did all of the fun things that the walkers class does.  Proudly, he came home with a decorated pumpkin.  And, while I'm not sure if the oddly feathered two eyed (the other is under the feathers) pumpkin is a masterpiece or should be examined, I sure think it's just darling.

Once we completed our afternoon nap time, we headed over to sweet bestie A's house for a fall party prior to trick or treat.  Guest stops with a few other friends to say hello, Baby B officially trick or treated one or two houses and then marched himself home. 


I guess when the baby goes home, he's trying to tell you he's had enough?  The child seriously walked (and knew where to cross the street to get home) at least 5 houses with Dear Hubs chasing behind him.  When we arrived home and everyone shed layers of coats and costumes, we dined on BBQ chicken pizza and salad.  Zsa Zsa and Pops were on hand with a giant pumpkin shaped cupcake for Baby B to enjoy as well.  Enjoy he did (and cover everything in orange frosting!)!  Once bellies were all full, Baby B called it a night, surprisingly close to his normal bedtime too!   

All in all, it was a successful and fun Halloween.  Now, onto November for more festive events and fun!

October 31, 2012

Boo Art

What seems like forever ago, I ordered two darling signs from One King Lane.  The promise and hope was that they would arrive in plenty of time to serve as decor for the Halloween month.  Well, with only 4 days to spare before the big day, they FINALLY arrived.  Good thing I think they are so presh, else OKL would be getting a gripey phone call about this.  Hey ... there is always next year!
The two signs are by Primatives By Kelly of Lancaster, PA.  They are made of wood and I know will stand up to the durability test to last year after year.  These two were plopped right down in two strategic vignettes that were just itching for a pop of Halloween fun. 
The smaller, rectangle subway art style sign rounds out the space in my curiousities room.  And the long "It's all about the treats" sign finishes off the family room side of my harvest sideboard in the kitchen. 
Who knows where they will wind up next year, guess we will just need to wait to find out!  Happy Halloween, y'all!